Wednesday, August 5, 2009

2003 : 08 "Form" by Martin Siewert & Martin Brandlmayr

Martin Siewert acoustic & electric guitars, lap steel, electronics, synthesizers

Martin Brandlmayr drums, percussion, vibraphone

The West Pier is a pier in Brighton, England that was built in 1866 and destroyed by fire, waves, and wind in 2003. Originally the West Pier had an open deck with only six small ornamental houses of oriental design, two toll houses and glass screens at the pier head to protect visitors from the wind and sun. In 1875 a central bandstand was added. It remained essentially intact for 100 years until 1975, when it was closed off from shore due to safety concerns. After a partial collapse in 2002 due to a winter storm, it caught fire twice in 2003, both times arson was suspected. The first fire came only three months after a walkway connecting the concert hall and pavilion fell into the sea after being battered by storms.

During its heyday in the early part of the century, the pier had its own resident orchestra (Elgar conducted it). The theatre presented plays, pantomimes and ballets all year round. New landing stages in 1894 made it possible for steamboats to use the pier as a terminus for travel to France, the Isle of Wight, Bournemouth, Weymouth and Dover. The pier also employed divers and aquatic entertainers. Two noted early West Pier divers were Professor Reddish and Professor Cyril. Professor Cyril was "the great exponent of High, Swedish and Fancy Diving". In May 1912 as he was performing his "sensational bicycle dive" in which he cycled off the end of the pier, he fell sideways and cracked his skull, dying instantaneously. Later, a manacled strongman also dived into the sea on a bicycle, this time his clothes aflame. He later drowned as hundreds of onlookers watched. The last famous West Pier diver was the Great Omani who, during the 60s, performed the "death dive", based on an original Houdini act, which involved jumping into the sea from the pier, hooded, bound and padlocked.

The physical decline of The West Pier started with the damage it sustained during the World War II. The pier was closed during the war and large chunks were cut out to prevent it from being used as landing stages by the Germans. In the 60s and 70s, the pier began to fall into decline. Trade ebbed away and visitor numbers declined as the pier's income fell. In the 1970s, it became a popular for recreational fishing, and several greasy spoon cafes opened, complete with cracked teacups. The pier soon fell on hard times, as did most English seaside towns. People started to go abroad more, to exotic places on package holidays. Seaside towns in the postwar period failed and piers failed in consequence. The flames have left just the cast iron and metal skeleton of the derelict pier standing.

Begin with a single note, a single flame.


See Also: Burkhard Stangl and Christof Kurzmann – Schnee (Erstwhile, 2000)

Darren DeMonsi

Listen: Martin Siewert & Martin Brandlmayr >> "Form"

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